Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Crackers & Dips and Pretzel Making at Home


There are some things you might not consider making yourself, like pretzels and crackers, but that would be a shame. Freshly made baked goods are always a treat, especially warm pretzels. Meanwhile it's the ease of making crackers and the ability to customize them that charmed me. Last year I wrote about the book Salty Snacks, which includes recipes for crackers and pretzels, but this year there are books dedicated to each. 

So the thing to know about pretzels is, you have to dip them in an alkaline solution. Pretzel Making at Home gives instructions for using food grade lye but also for using baking soda which is a lot less intimidating. The cool thing about the book is it shows you lots of different shapes you can make--sticks, rolls, bites, tiny twists and minis. That alone makes me want to make pretzels. I didn't realize how many kinds of pretzels there are until I got this book--sweet ones, savory ones, soft, hard, you name it. 

Making crackers is ridiculously fun, in part because they are so easy to make! The hardest part is waiting for the dough to rest and rolling them as flat as you can. Some of the instructions in Crackers and Dips say roll out to 1/16 of an inch. If you have any idea how thin that is, you are one up on me. I'd just say roll them as thin as humanly possible. I started with the "everything" Flatbread Crackers and have not looked back since. I haven't made any of the recipes that require yeast yet, but I probably will soon. 

True to it's name Crackers & Dips has plenty of dip recipes. You will end up wanting to skip tortilla chips and pita chips in favor of your own homemade crackers. The savory dips run the gamut from vegan and vegetarian and to meat and fish based. Some are indulgent but others are healthy. Once you get the hang of the bean dips and pates, you may find yourself customizing those too. I've found a platter of crackers and dips can easily morph from appetizer to light meal. 

Disclaimer: My thanks to Chronicle Books for providing review copies of these books, this post does contain affiliate links.